Friday, 11 May 2018

During the early days of Microsoft, Bill Gates was able to be as hands-on as he desired with developing software. However, his inability to trust others and delegate responsibility, hindered the success of the company- teaching him a lasting lesson. When Microsoft was launched, not only did gates write most of the code, he read and rewrote everybody else's code too.

"If you want to have an impact, usually, delegation is important," Gates told Harvard students at a Q&A last month. Gates had to force himself to stop revising and perfecting his peers' work saying "I had to say to myself, 'OK, we're going to ship code that I didn't edit', and that was hard for me, but I kinda got over that." 

Gates' micromanagement continued even as his team grew to around 40 people. He even went as far as memorizing employees' license plate numbers to track which ones worked the longest hours. When hiring, he would personally speak to each candidate and review their work which made the hiring process incredibly cumbersome and negatively affected the team's productivity.

Eventually, he hired his good college friend Steve Ballmer, who helped Gates to realise how to limit the promises he made and taught him how to hire lots of really good people to create organisations and teams.

Initially, Gates was dismissive when Ballmer recommended that the company began hiring programmers that Gates had never met.  Ballmer showed him that numerically the constraint wasn't going to work.

Gates soon learned that Microsoft could only succeed if he learned to have confidence and faith in others. "If you want to write the most popular office productivity software, one person absolutely can't do that." He continued: "Eventually, my role was very much as a leader and a reviewer of managers... I would make sure they were pursuing a common vision and they were well-coordinated." He even discovered that his new hires "were way better than he was. By realising his weaknesses and how the strengths of others could compliment his own strengths was a key to his success "picking what you're good at and how you find the other people to fill in those things, that's super important."

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